Living Culture at Fortis | An Interview with CEO of Chung Wah Association Teresa Kwok

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This week as part of our living culture at Fortis blog series we took the time to interview Chief Executive Officer Teresa Kwok from Chung Wah Association. Founded in 1909, the Chung Wah Association is the largest and most established Chinese organisation in Western Australia. Teresa also sits on Fortis Consulting’s advisory panel for the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care program.

We sat down with Teresa to ask what Chinese New Year represents to community and Chung Wah.

 1) What does Chinese New Year represent to your organisation?

Chinese New Year conveys a lot of meaning, in China itself it is based more around agriculture, it is harvest time and an important time to bring family members together. It is a celebration to wish one another good health and good fortune for the new year.
Normally the Chinese New Year will run from the first day of Chinese New Year until the 15th day of Chinese New Year. It is a big celebration, everyone dresses up, everyone has a good time and there are many market stalls, events and celebrations to take part in not only throughout China but around the world and also here in Perth.

 

How does Chung Wah celebrate Chinese New Year?

There are a series of events we are celebrating as this year. Chinese New Year begins on the 16th of February and this also marks the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Dog. The Year of the Dog symbolises loyalty, honesty, trust and strong morals and ethics.
On the 3rd day of Chinese New Year, Sunday 18th of February the whole of James St in Northbridge will be closed for a celebration. Each year we have in excess 50,000 – 60,000 people attend the Chinese New Year Festival which has over 100 stalls. Chung Wah will be present at the Chinese New Year event in Northbridge providing information and goods to the community. It is a wonderful atmosphere and a great opportunity to meet many members of the community.

For our non-English speaking seniors on the 7th day of Chinese New Year’s, Thursday 22nd of February, we will be hosting our 6th anniversary Longevity Luncheon. This is a celebration for all and represents the birth day of all people. It is for all the elderly, family members and loved ones to come together. This year we will have roughly 400 participants at the luncheon and our theme is “celebrating life”. It is a reminder that ordinary seniors have spent their whole life contributing not only to their families but also their communities and even in old age continue to do so. It is very much about sharing the stories of life and intergenerational learnings. It is a time for us to recognise the unsung heroes which are our seniors.
To wrap up our Chinese New Year celebration this year, on the 3rd of March we will be holding an evening banquet which again brings together community, loved ones and family members for a meal.

 

What is Chung Wah’s aspirations and goals for the Chinese New Year?

Our goal is to celebrate all the unsung heroes – our clients and seniors. In our Longevity Luncheon we will have many seniors over the age of 90 and 4 over the age of 100. This year truly is all about ‘Celebrating Life’ for Chung Wah, it’s about sharing the stories of our elderly and we look forward to what the year ahead holds.

Through promoting Harmony, preserving Heritage and practising Humanity, Chung Wah serves as the bridge between the Chinese community and mainstream society.